While women often talk about their workplace experiences being different than those of men, it can be hard to get a real picture of what’s going on. By looking at recent reports of women in the workplace, it’s easier to understand how women feel about where they’re working, what’s happening, and what they need in order to succeed.
Career Balance Is Necessary
Virtually all women feel that balancing their career with their family is important, according to a recent report from PwC. 95% of women look for the flexibility to do this within their job. This can mean several different things: flex time opportunities, general family leave time, good health insurance and child care benefits, and solid work from home options. According to the same survey, 40% of women worry that having children could be detrimental to their career; nearly half believe that having children has caused them to be overlooked for either a promotion or a special project.
Companies that want to encourage diversity within their companies need to be aware of what women are looking for in this area and ensuring that they provide it.
Looking For Advancement
People of all genders apply for promotions and special projects within their companies. The difference appears to be how many of the potential job qualifications women have to meet in order to apply. According to the PwC report, 40% of women wait until they meet all criteria before they apply for a promotion; less than 20% will apply if they only meet some of the criteria. Most concerningly almost half of women wait for their employer to approach them to offer a special project or promotion.
Business can be cut throat, and many men are socially encouraged in the behaviors that lead them to be successful while pursuing and then obtaining the special projects that can make it easier for them to get promoted. Employers need to be aware that women are socially trained to put themselves forward less, and therefore can be overlooked for promotions or assignments. Employers should ensure that they are finding more fair methods of distributing these opportunities so that all employees have a chance to shine.
Less than half of women are willing to go to their boss and negotiate for more responsibility or to work with a special client. Of the women who do engage in those negotiations, more than half are successful; 63% got a promotion, 91% got a pay raise, 82% got a training opportunity, 91% got assigned to a high profile client or project, and 86% got a stretch assignment, according to the PwC report.
This again points to how employers need to help women feel that negotiations are possible by making sure they are open and approachable to all employees. But this may also show the importance of female mentorship. After all, women who have “been there” may have an easier time telling younger women that it’s worth fighting for that promotion or raise. After all, again, women are socially trained to hang back rather than put themselves forward.
More Women In The Workforce Increases GDP
Sometimes people ask why there’s so much focus on improving women’s access to the workforce. The answer is overall GDP for the country. For example, according to UN Women, increasing female workforce participation in the USA to match that in Sweden could add $6 trillion to the GDP.
Women face significant barriers to workplace access; they struggle to get access to STEM fields, secure traditional funding for their own businesses, and find mentors who can help them make the connections and gain the education they need to thrive. Strides are being made to improve these situations, but the country continues to lag. Improving these numbers can only benefit women – and the American economy.
Women Are Hugely Underrepresented in C-Suites
The discrepancy between men and women starts early in business – 60% of college graduates are women, yet less than half of entry level hires are female – the difference gets worse at every level of promotion. By the time the highest level of executives are being examined, according to a 2017 McKinsey Report, one in five C-suites is held by a white woman, and only one in 30 is held by a woman of color.
Women Do Not Leave The Workforce At Higher Rates Because of Family
Women often face discrimination at hiring because (male) hiring teams worry that women will quickly leave the company to start a family. The stereotype is untrue however; leaving the workforce due to familial commitments is relatively the same for men and women (although white men and women overall tend to leave the workforce less often than men and women of color). Either way, the numbers are quite low; less than 2% of workers intend to leave the workforce entirely when they start a family.
Four In Ten Women Have Faced Workplace Discrimination
From being treated as incompetent to being passed over for the most important assignments, 40% of women report being discriminated against in the workplace. In casual conversations, the numbers may often seem to be higher, with some women feeling that this is just the state of things, and not identifying these issues as discrimination.
It’s clear that, while women have made significant inroads into the business sphere, there’s plenty of room for continued improvement. Employers can make a difference by taking a hard look at how women are treated in their organization, talking to women who work there, and implementing changes that can help level the playing field for women of all racial and cultural backgrounds. Increasing diversity in the workplace has proven benefits for companies.